RE: Percussive dance sensors - request for any information

Richard Allen (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 11:32:34 +1000

> What you need is an Alesis D4 (available for about $200 on the net) which
> is a MIDI Drum machine that has the added feature of 12 inputs to which
> MIDI Drum Pads can be connected.

You can also use a Roland PM-16 which does pretty much the same thing, only
with 16 inputs. It's not a drum machine though, so you'd need a sound
module to interpret the MIDI events. May be cheaper, but I'm not sure. I
bought one for Aus$90 about a year ago.

But as you pointed out :

> >percussive dance isn't this discrete...a limited number of
> >levels would be
> >fine but just on/off would be very limiting.

This method is great for setting up floor areas, triggering specific samples
and velocity sensitive synth notes, but you may get more "feel" just playing
with direct audio. I caught a performance of "Stomp" a few months back, and
I believe they used straight audio rather than triggered MIDI events.
Whatever they used, I thought it was very effective. Anyone out there know?

I would suggest also playing with contact mics (the small peizo ones Mark
mentioned would be ideal to start with) and using some simple audio effects
(eq, delay, reverb etc) to create the character of sould you want.

It is possible to mount them in a pair of shoes, transmit the audio using a
wireless mic unit (not cheap for a proper stage one, but kit units tend to
be dodgy) and have a good audio person at the desk dialing in the required

Then again you could go both ways, and route the same transmitted audio to
an Alesis D4, Roland PM-16 or whatever to trigger samples for a different

Looks like you have plenty of options here, so I hope I haven't confused the
issue, but I would suggest building a few test setups (first just with
audio, then borrow someone with the MIDI hardware and expertise to test that
avenue) and seeing how responsive they feel to get the desired sounds to
match the performance.

Good luck!

Richard Allen